John Amaechi, the former NBA basketball player who disclosed his homosexuality last week, has been receiving threatening e-mails since making the announcement.
Currently promoting his autobiography Man in the Middle in the United States, Amaechi said the kind of e-mails he was sent would “make you sick.”
The British-born 36-year-old has been asked by American gay activists Human Rights Campaign be to their spokesman for their “Coming Out project,”
The programme which aims to help LGBT people come out and live openly.
Describing the situation since his sexuality was revealed as ‘chaotic,’ he said the support from the NBA fraternity has so far been limited.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is the only person in basketball to have reached out to him, though Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also praised Amaechi for standing up.
However, the star appears undeterred and points to the positive e-mails that he has also received since making the announcement.
He emphasised his new mission is to send the message to gay athletes in all sports that coming out is the right thing to do.
In particular, Amaechi wants to “create a discourse” and open the minds of sportsmen, and help change the attitude amongst high school players who may feel disinclined to disclose their sexuality at such an early stage in their careers.
The British player has also attracted a fair amount of criticisms for his revelations, with accusations ranging from dishonesty, untrustworthy to opportunistic.
While many of the older NBA players last week publicly expressed respect for Amaechi, two younger players were noticeably outspoken in their views.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Shavlik Randolph said he would be fine with having a gay team-mate as long as a player did not bring his “gayness” on him.
LeBron James – one of the biggest stars in the NBA players and a member of Amaechi’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers – said when asked if a gay player could survive in the league,
“With team-mates, you have to be trustworthy, and if you’re gay and you’re not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy.”
Amaechi has defended his decision not to come out as a when still playing professionally, saying it would have jeopardised his career.
Certain sections of the media have also suggested that this headline-making stunt is merely Amaechi trying to leave his mark in the game after a less-than-glittering career in the NBA.
In related news, retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway has retracted his earlier remarks that he hates gay people and would ask for a gay player to be removed from the team. He had told a Miami sports talk show,
“You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”
He later apologised for his remarks, and expressed regrets over his ‘mistake’ for saying them.
Amaechi, who retired from the NBA league three years ago, is of English and Nigerian parentage and grew up in Stockport.
He moved to the US to play high school basketball and went on to play for professional teams in America, France, Germany, Greece and England.
Amaechi, who is 6′ 10″ tall, came out of retirement to represent England during the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne last year.